Love and security for disabled children
Rosie and her husband, Paul, a white couple with three older birth children, have adopted Jamie and Steven who are both disabled
“Our fourth birth child taught us not to be afraid of disability,” says Rosie. “She was born with Edward’s syndrome, and we became aware of the disabled children left in hospital because their parents found it too difficult to cope. So we decided to adopt.”
Sadly, their daughter died at 18 months old, before the couple were approved for adoption. They eventually decided to carry on with the assessment, and Jamie, now five, joined the family in 2000. He has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and, at the time, needed to be fed through a gastrostomy tube. Jamie uses a wheelchair, and the family received support to pay for alterations – a ramp, a downstairs shower room and turning the dining room into a bedroom.
As Rosie and Paul became more confident in parenting Jamie, they decided to adopt another disabled child. “It was quite a journey, but finally we found Steven, now 6, who also has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair and a walking frame.”
The boys have flourished since joining the family. They attend mainstream school and really enjoy being there. Fortunately, this is a fairly new school with a lift and wider doors and corridors for good wheelchair access. “The boys join in with all the other children and love socialising,” says Rosie. “Previously Jamie was in a special school, but life has changed so much for him. Rather than being hidden away and not part of the community, he’s now got lots of friends, and other parents have said how pleased they are that their own, able children have the chance to be friends with the boys.”
Steven has also benefited academically from being in mainstream school and, with the family’s help, his reading has improved. “Just listening to his reading every night, like any other family, has built up his confidence and helped him to feel that he can do these things, and that he’s not different from other children.”
Rosie believes adoption offers a child more security than permanent fostering, but knows support is a huge issue. “We get an adoption allowance for Jamie, but little support for Steven,” she says. “I’ve heard people say that they can’t afford to adopt, but neither can we… somehow we manage!” She feels very strongly that more financial support should be available for adopters, so that more people could feel in a position to adopt rather than foster. “You see a huge shift in the children when they start feeling secure and are able to say: ‘This is my mum, my dad, my room, my bed, my class, my teacher.’ To become part of a family, and know they will stay put forever.”
The boys’ names have been changed.
Originally published in the Be My Parent newspaper in November 2004.
This article is published with the kind permission of the people involved. You may download it for your own reference but if you wish to use it for any other purpose, please contact Be My Parent for authorisation: Be My Parent, BAAF, Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS. Telephone: 020 7421 2666/5/4.
Last updated: 13 May 10